Education

School board revisits mask mandate

By Joel Phelps
The Arkadelphian

Arkadelphia Public School officials surveyed district nurses and a committee for a recommendation on whether to continue the Board of Education’s August decision to mandate face coverings while indoors on district property or while riding district-owned vehicles.

Superintendent Dr. Karla Neathery informed the school board during its regular meeting Tuesday night that administration met with all three school district nurses on Monday. Neathery said all three were in favor of continuing the mask mandate for the next 30 days. Neathery said also that a survey was sent to the district’s Ready for Learning committee, and that of those 20 panel members surveyed, 67 percent — or 13.4 committee members, according to The Arkadelphian’s math — “would like to see the mask mandate continue for the next 30 days.”

With a motion to reconfirm the Aug. 10 resolution from Kenneth Harris and a second from Gina White, the board unanimously approved to continue the mask mandate for at least 30 days, and to revisit the topic during the school board’s Oct. 19 meeting.

Following the decision, board member Clark Tennyson questioned the district’s handle on quarantines, asking if recent actions taken by district principals have been effective. Neathery said the only quarantines district-wide totaled eight students, all of whom are students at Peake Elementary School. Neathery turned the attention to Mary Snowden, Peake’s principal.

“Sleepovers,” Snowden responded. “Things out of our control.”

Board member Gina White said she was “glad” the district is “not in the news” regarding active Covid-19 cases or quarantines.

Board president Casey Motl addressed students, parents, faculty and staff for support of the board’s “decision to keep [the mask mandate] in place for your protection, for the protection of our students and for the protection of our community. … There’s a ripple effect when we’re all very diligent about our safety and our public health.”

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